atm audio Llebeig-A Preamplifier Review


My correspondence with Jesús Alejos Pérez of atm audio of Spain dates back to 2017 when I learned about his interesting Class A amplifiers, which have a unique, solid aluminum enclosure with a special heat dissipation system. 


Fast forward to 2022, the stars finally aligned and it's time to take a closer look at atm audio's creations. The ATM Llebeig-A preamplifier review will be followed by the Garbi 60 power amplifiers. 

ATM Audio


atm audio is a proud venture of Jesús Alejos Pérez, who has quite an interesting background. 

In the eighties, he worked as a technician for Panasonic, Technics, and Samsung. Later, in 1990, he started working for a multinational electromedical company, managing the technical service for anesthesia and monitoring equipment. 


Here, Jesús Alejos Pérez came into contact with high-tech and reliable electronic components that he later used. In the meantime, he built amplifiers for his family and friends. In 2006, Pérez began using Class D modules from some manufacturers, and in 2014 he designed his first 25-watt Class A amplifier. 

For this amplifier, a monoblock aluminum enclosure was designed with a very unusual and little-known heat dissipation system that has become the hallmark of atm audio. 

Gradually, Jesús Alejos Pérez added different designs of amplifiers, line, and phono preamplifiers, using this aluminum chassis as his distinctive mark and employing the medical line components mentioned above. Later, the designer included hybrid Class-D amplification in the atm audio catalog, using the Korg Nutube tube in some models and the 12AU7 in others, managing to eliminate the characteristic coldness of Class-D amplifiers. The portfolio will also be expanded to include a preamplifier, streamer, DAC, and integrated amplifier. All of these products will be unveiled at the Munich 2022 high-end audio show.


atm audio is also dedicated to producing equipment tailored to customers' needs. They collaborate with some Spanish loudspeaker manufacturers and develop amplifiers according to their specifications. Admire-audio is one of these companies for which ATM Audio has developed a 10W amplifier for their high speakers.

atm audio is a family-owned company based in Valencia. Jesús Alejos Pérez and his two children run everything from start to finish. All atm audio products are handmade, using the best components on the market. 

atm audio was supposed to launch internationally in 2020, but due to the pandemic, everything was postponed to 2022.

Llebeig-A 


The Llebeig-A preamplifier is a minimalist system with only one input selector switch, power switch, and an ALPS motorized potentiometer volume control.

Motorized ALPS potentiometer

It uses a circuit type very similar to that of the Garbí 60 amplifier. It has a pair of transistors at the input, this time JFET, in differential mode, driving another pair of MOSFET transistors. The MOSFET transistors are mounted on separate heat sinks.

Audiophile-grade Nichicon capacitors

The circuit consists of a power supply with Sparkoslabs ultra-low noise regulators and audiophile-grade Nichicon Fine Gold capacitors. All resistors have a tolerance of 0.1%, which gives the system very high stability.

Sparkoslab low noise voltage regulator 

All components are housed in a monoblock aluminum enclosure, milled with to the highest precision, giving rigidity and stability to the whole assembly. 


The frequency response reaches up to 80KHz.


All of atm audio's products are named after winds from the Mediterranean Sea. In this case, the Garbí and LLebeig are warm winds that come from the east of the Valencia region (the place of origin of atm audio), as the preamplifiers and amplifiers in class A. 

Operational


The Llebeig-A preamplifier was designed from the ground up to be as minimalist as possible, with only a power switch, input selector, and volume control.

The input circuitry consists of manually matched JFET transistors. Includes ALPS motorized potentiometer with remote control and relays with very low contact resistance to avoid degradation of the audio signal. 

The remote control (almost as robust as the box) is also milled from solid aluminum and has only volume control and mute. 


The power supply uses highly stable, very low-noise voltage regulators and filtering with audiophile Nichicon capacitors. 

The rear panel is equipped with gold-plated RCA connectors.


As with all atm-audio products, the Llebeig-A has been hand-built and encased in a beautifully designed, vibration-damping enclosure made from a solid block of aluminum with individually milled compartments to prevent RFI interferences.
 
atm-audio has managed to reduce noise to a minimum so that the music can be enjoyed to the fullest.
 
Like everything about the Llebeig-A, the controls are simplified and purist. On the front, the on/off button is located in the center and the left button is reserved for input selection (1-2-3). The right button is for volume control. 


On the back are three line-level RCA inputs, the RCA output, and the IEC connectors. 

The operation is simple, straightforward, and without much fuss.

The music


The atm audio Llebeig-A preamplifier has some immeasurable qualities that presuppose the elementary truth. As always, here are some reference pieces that highlight the merits of the Llebeig-A. 


The vibraphone solo of  Grant Green's Idle Moments impressively demonstrates purism with a touch of Class-A warmth that enriches the sound and is balanced just right to reflect the music sentiment of this iconic album. 

The forces of musical vitality have always been presented with a sense of grandeur and without trivialities that can too quickly sound like an acoustic mesh model, a false image of the music. 




Boundless dynamics are hard to convey, but Benny Green's "Tivoli" on Benny's Crib album was given far more pictorial sonic tropes and the inconsistencies that too often occurred even with pricer's preamps swiftly disappeared.

Dynamic freedom and impressive transparency were further cemented with Bassface Swing Trio Plays Gershwin "Strike Up the Band." 

Here, the massiveness of the drum battery can be dialed down too quickly. Not with the Llebeig-A preamp.


The physical presence and dynamic movements did not disappear as quickly as I would expect at this price point. A great warm comfort surrounds the notes, overlaid with the necessary physical appearance without distractions. 

The subtle delicacy and wonderful interplay of fire patterns of "Anna" by Charline Haen and Antonio Forcione, always in sync, was simply presented more picturesquely without disappearing into the sonic space. 


Llebeig-A's ability to render decays and delays with surprising, non-ephemeral longevity shows sonic surface differences in all their variety and subtlety. 

Check Baker's "Easy Living" Bakers Holiday. The purity and the real scale of the vocal with all its necessary idiosyncrasies. 

The atm audio Llebeig-A fixed property or the music momentum, music details, and note's transiences were all rendered spot-on.


The dynamic landmass was laid down without buzzing confusion. The slow tempo never sounded like a quatrain but a four-four time, representing the micro and macrocosm of the music with a solid forte presentation. 

ATM Llebeig - A preamp with an uninhibited density that imagines music horizontally and vertically without dissolving reciprocity.

The most important thing is that the musical language was always unveiled unscattered and never allowed any kind of metaphors to enter the music reproduction. 

From track to track, from album to album, the Llebeig-A preamplifier inextricably connected the dots of music with surprising ease folding the acoustic space-time exuberantly and making it possible to recognize the different qualities of different eras, embarking elemental longings in listening to music.

With its unchanging quality and vivid presence, the atm audio Llebeig-A preamplifier can take the listener to the infinite realms of music without causing any kind of interception or fatigue. A big achievement for this small-big, highly potent preamplifier. 

Conclusion


Although there have been repeated attempts to simplify or even diminish the role of the high-end audio preamplifier, in most cases the practical results speak for its importance.

And not only that. With a properly designed and tuned preamplifier, new sonic and musical frontiers can be discovered. 


But just as the fundamental role of the preamplifier should not be minimized, neither should its sound be marginalized. 

The preamp should be both invisible and act as a rudder. It should leave the incoming signal untouched and yet be able to amplify the crucible and fragile signal coming from different sources. 

And along the way, both logic and emotion must be affected to achieve truly potent outcomes. And as we have learned in recent years, the hemispheres of the brain cannot simply be divided into left and right. Their processes and interconnections are far more complex,  intervene, and intricate than we thought. 

We are highly sensitive and susceptible to both. When the particular threshold of this peculiar juxtaposition is reached, we are moved by both logic centers. 


When the right inner crux(s) is addressed, it tips us, telling us that something has been done just right and the music stops sounding like a messy, scattering sum of sonic patterns. It just became a harmonic whole, ready to take over our inner clocking and senses. Something that even some very expensive preamps can not do a lot of times. 

When a high-end audio system is properly tuned, balanced, and matched, the sound experience should be all about recurring fantasies. 

With a high-end audio preamplifier, we want to escape any toning down the original message. The job of a preamp is to transmit the sound in such a way that nothing or little is lost in translation. 


The unique properties of the atm audio preamplifier allow for reproducing the smallest details and their shifts with a higher density so that the sound image appears more imaginative and vivid. 

The atm audio Llebeig-A escapes sound fatigue, working within the proper calibration and expectation of sound images and handling sonic overturnings and pulverizations with refreshing ease. 
 
The atm audio Llebeig-A preamplifier is transparent yet with a hint of natural warmth like the Mediterranean wind it is named after. It is able to weave time and space without interfering, bringing out exquisite timbres and powerful dynamics when they are present. Llebeig-A offers persistence in reproducing familiar reality and never turns up the tempos of the music.

There are many good-sounding preamps on the market. But so often I have to deal with the sonic signature they introduce. In contrast, with the atm audio Llebeig - a preamplifier that remarkably fulfills its intended role - I immediately felt I was in the right place. Balanced, transparent yet embracing a bit of warmness.

I am not talking about artificial, saturation, but the natural, dark warmness that is instantly recognizable with the timbre, tone, and sound of real acoustic instruments. 

The atm audio Llebeig-A preamplifier has a unique translucent quality that reminds me of the resolution of passive preamplifiers rather than active preamplifiers in their purity. And that alone is a remark worthy of high praise. 


The Llebeig-A has this unique magnetic quality that allows it to jump from one musical dimension to another without getting in the way or interfering with the music. 

Despite its relatively compact size, the Llebeig-A preamplifier is far above calling it just a small virtuoso. Its potent core is devoid of the usual sonic inconsistencies and, above all, transcends the basic equations of the brain by letting the music enter the heart and mind directly in a grand way. 

Matej Isak

Price

 
  • Retail price: 7.800,00€ (exc. VAT & shipping)
 

Technial specifications

  • THD (+noise) – single ended: <0.048%
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: >110 dB ‘A’ – weighted
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 80 kHz (+0, –1 dB)
  • Inputs: 3x RCA / Line Level
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 360 x 300 x 70 mm
  • Weight: 5 kg

Contact


Atm-audio
Carrer de Màlaga 33
BAJO IZQUIERDA 
46009 Valencia
Spain

Tel: +34 630 93 25 20